A number of women due for cervical screening and breast screening have had appointments cancelled in the first week of January due to the worsening situation with Covid-19.
Speaking to The Echo, Clinical Director of CervicalCheck, Dr Nóirín Russell, assured women who have had appointments cancelled by GPs who are not continuing with screening due to Covid-19 not to panic.
“If you've had normal screens in the past and you are a well woman without symptoms, and if your appointment is rescheduled for four weeks time, or even if it is eight weeks time, there is very little risk there.
“It’s really important to stress that if you are a woman with symptoms, that goes out the window.” She said that any woman who experiences intermenstrual bleeding or bleeding after intercourse “shouldn’t be going for a screening test at all, she should be going to the GP for an assessment because she may need urgent gynecological assessment”.
“That should still happen, pandemic or no pandemic,” she said.
Women without symptoms have been advised to reschedule an appointment with their own doctor at a time when screening recommences or to call other practices in their area who may still be carrying out screening, as CervicalCheck does not tie women to any particular GP.
She said that following the pause in the service from March 30 to July 6 last year, 100,000 women who received their invitation for screening in 2020 are yet to have their appointment, along with the further 6,000 women who have received their invitations so far this year.
Dr Russell advised women to continue to make appointments as “every single person who gets screened now is one less person to be screened post this wave” and assured that GP practices have measures in place to make interaction with patients as safe as it possibly can be.
Meanwhile, BreastCheck is currently operating at reduced capacity and some units are temporarily closed, with available staff providing a service for women within its care who are deemed to be at higher risk at this time.
The southern static unit on Infirmary Road in Ballintemple carried out follow-up assessments for those scheduled on the week beginning January 4 and the HSE is advising women who are due a follow-up assessment this week to continue to attend on the day and time given.
The HSE confirmed that it aims to continue routine breast screening from January 11 for all other women.
Women who are scheduled for routine screening will be contacted by their clinic in the days prior to their appointment to confirm the appointment time.